Liverpool supporters in the Transfer Tavern are very much looking forward to their side’s meeting with Premier League champions-elect Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday, what with the Reds going in off the back of beating Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men went into their encounter with the Eagles in the Premier League having won four of their previous five league matches, yet they did lose their previous away match at Manchester United. And the Merseysiders were up against it again when Luka Milivojevic gave Roy Hodgson’s side a first half advantage, only for Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to hit back in the second period to seal all three points for the Reds, thus keeping them in third place following United’s success over Swansea City a few hours later.
As such, there are many thrilled Liverpudlians in the Tavern ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Pep Guardiola’s City at Anfield, with the Merseyside giants hoping to make home advantage count to take a lead into the second leg at the Etihad Stadium next week.
However, it looks as though they will have to do so without influential midfielder Emre Can, who is reportedly a doubt for the clash on Wednesday having failed to restart training following a back injury.
And attentions among our resident Reds fans have been turning towards who Klopp may opt to start instead of the injured 24-year-old, with many of the opinion that ex-City star James Milner should get the nod.
And that’s because the former England international is a more defensive-minded central midfielder, and as such would be able to offer support to full backs Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold against the incredible talents that are Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling.
Ultimately, the 32-year-old spent the vast majority of last season at left back due to Alberto Moreno’s woeful form in that position, so he will be well aware of the demands of the role and indeed how best to go about nullifying some of the division’s trickiest forwards.
And after their dismantling of Everton on Saturday, it’s clear that messrs Sane and Sterling will need thwarting at Anfield on Wednesday night if Liverpool are to take a lead to the Etihad Stadium, and while both Robertson and Alexander-Arnold have done well this term, both are lacking in experience at this stage of the Champions League.
And that is where Milner comes in.
Yes, it’s not Klopp’s nature to be particularly defensive in his set-up, but it’s not every week that one faces a side full of attacking talent like Pep Guardiola’s City – he has to make sure the Reds stay in the game ahead of the return leg next week.
And by opting for Milner in place of the injured Can, it gives a slightly more defensive-minded approach in the middle of the park, while the 32-year-old has experience on this stage and indeed at full back to provide the support needed to messrs Robertson and Alexander-Arnold.
Thus, while there’s little doubting that Can’s absence will be a blow for Liverpool, Klopp must opt for £10.8 million-rated Milner (as per Transfermarkt) in his place against the Citizens on Wednesday.
Liverpool fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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